Saturday, May 25, 2013

Runner's High

So it has been awhile since I've written anything. And I think feeling the need to explain why and apologize  has kept me from returning sooner. I think I will save all of that for another day. Suffice it to say that I returned to work and the world only sort of fell apart - the last 8 months have been filled with a sick baby, a favorite relative battling cancer, a work stoppage, a crazy insanse condensed season, a sick baby, a sick baby, a sick baby, lots of stress and fighting, a sick baby, oh, and a sick baby. But Ryder just turned one and is currently not sick (I don't even know what to do with myself), Mike and I are still planning to get married (because we still love each other even after seeing the worst in each other during all the stress), I still love my job (most of the time) and life goes on.

Along those same lines, I am slowly re-gaining some sense of normalcy to my life and routine. Not breastfeeding any longer (I lasted 9 months and then my body rudely said it was done so that was that; also probably another blog) not working 70 hours weeks, and actually getting more than 3 hours of sleep at a time has given me somewhat of a predictable schedule, an increase in my energy level, and a small amount of free time. It's fantastic! I've started cooking again, catching up on reading (although I do feel like I'll never actually be caught up thanks to an ever-growing to-read list) and working out.

I've never been a fan of working out. I always played sports and loved it and at various stages in my life have had gym memberships that I've used sporadically. I've even tried exotic fitness classes and have a new appreciation for the athleticism of really good strippers - not the ones who just strut around and hump the ground but the ones who can really work the pole. During my divorce I started working out with a trainer religiously and got in really great shape - then I met Mike who loved me unconditionally and actually told me he preferred me curvy. My job also shifted at that point and working out fell off the prioroity list. Then a few years later I realized I was not happy with myself or my lifestyle and I wanted to get healthy in the event that Mike and I ever decided to get married (wanted to look good in pictures) and/or had kids (wanted to be a good role model and a MILF- hey, just being honest). I had also set a goal to run a 5k a long time ago and decided it was finally time to work towards that. So I got into a great routine of going to bootcamp 3 mornings a week at 7am, running 3 or 4 times a week, and taking yoga classes 2 times a week. I got into really great shape and got knocked up. We're pretty sure that I was able to get pregnant because I was in such great shape. But then I was so terrified to lose the baby (if you've read any of my earlier posts than you already know this) that I quit doing anything active.

Fast forward and here I am, at my pre-baby weight but still feeling and looking totally out of shape. My clothes fit, but not always in the most flattering way. I've taken the plunge and started going back to yoga and throwing in some intermittent cardio - I will run another 5k one day soon! Yoga is really frustrating because I love it and was so proud of how much I had progressed prior to becoming a drop-out. I feel like I'm starting over as a beginner again, re-teaching my body the proper form for poses and increasing my now non-existent flexibility. But I keep telling myself that I was a beginner at one point and that if I stick with it, I'll get back to where I was and hopefully surpass that. My instructor is really big on mantras and intentions and each practice we take time to center ourselves and focus on our intentions. The first week mine was just to make it through the whole class but lately is has been to continue to gain strength and flexibility. My mantra has been "my body is womanly, my body is beautiful, my body did what it was designed to do and I have an amazing baby boy". I just repeat that over and over and over while I'm trying to breathe rhythmically and keep my balance in half moon pose.

The running has come along much more slowly. Mostly because I don't actually like running. I'm a competitive person and I also like acheiving goals that I set for myself so running a 5k is more of a challenge than a hobby. Even though I was a bit of a track star in jr. high and high school, I was a sprinter and never one to really push myself. I guess it is sort of strange that I voluntarily spent so much time and energy focused on something that I don't enjoy. I've never felt that "runner's high" that you hear about and have always sort of suspected that is is something of a myth. I keep thinking one day I'll feel it and imagine that is will feel like the rush I used to get from being a daredevil (aka reckless idiot) in college or the natural high I used to feel at the begining stages of falling in love. So far I only end up feeling tired, sweaty, and totally out of breath. I do love shopping for cute workout clothes but I'm pretty sure that doesn't count.

Yesterday at work upper management posed the challenge to us to come run the stadium stairs. Our 3rd level is a 1/4 mile long all the way around and we have 23 sections of seating, each divided by a stairwell that goes from row A to row S or T in some sections. The goal was to show up at 7am and starting at section 301, run from row A to S/T and back down to row A for each set of stairs all the way around. Somehow I thought this sounded like a great idea - pretty sure that I was trying to impress upper management by being one of the few (only about 15 people) who accepted the challenge. Mostly I think I just wanted to see how far I could get. Well, I made it all the way around. I didn't run, I walked, and half-way around I started only going down to row G (there is a platform at row G that is the entry to each section from the concourse) but I did it. I showed up at 7, I got my butt moving, and I made it all the way around. And it sucked. I wanted to die by section 309. I was the last person to finish. And my legs didn't stop quivering for a good 3 hours after we were done.

But I did it. And you know what? I felt pretty great about it. I had a bounce in my step all day from knowing that I had put in a great workout before the day even started and that I had completed my challenge to myself. And I started remembering how much I loved that feeling after each bootcamp session and after each run. The sense of accomplishment and self-satisfaction, the appreciation for my body and what it is capable of, the pride when I look in the mirror and know that I look and feel better after each and every time I work out. And it dawned on me, maybe that is my own personal "high". I couldn't tell you if it was enorphins or just a mental feeling but either way, I finally recognized it. Maybe it isn't the true runner's high that marathon runners feel (and I'm pretty certain I will never know but I'm okay with that - those people are crazy!) but it was still a great feeling and one that I look forward to feeling more and more as I work back to a fit and healthy lifestyle.

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